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Left Turn Laws in South Carolina

Vehicles making left turns are common causes of serious accidents in South Carolina. Making a left turn requires the driver to keep an adequate lookout for oncoming vehicles, yield the right-of-way, and watch for crossing bicyclists or pedestrians while turning. Negligent drivers can easily cause severe or fatal left-turn accidents. If you or a loved one suffered injuries because of a driver making a negligent left turn, learn your rights with help from an attorney.

The Uniform Act Regulating Traffic on Highways

South Carolina Code Section 56-5-2120 outlines the responsibilities of a driver intending to complete a turn. It states that a driver turning left must use the farthest left-hand lane lawfully available in the same direction of traffic. A driver cannot initiate a left-hand turn from a middle lane when a left-turn lane is available. The driver must then make the left turn whenever practical, to the left of the center of the intersection. The driver making a left turn cannot impede traffic moving in the same direction.

Making a left turn whenever practical means whenever it is safe and prudent to do so. The timing will depend on the intersection. At an intersection with a left turn arrow signal, the driver must wait until the green arrow appears. If the intersection only has a green light (with no arrow), the turning driver must yield the right-of-way to oncoming traffic and only turn left when it is safe to do so. Cutting off oncoming drivers, misjudging the distance/speed of oncoming vehicles, or failure to watch for oncoming traffic are acts of negligence that could cause accidents.

If the intersection does not have a stoplight, the driver can only make a left-hand turn when he or she has the right-of-way. The right-of-way at a four-way stop goes to the driver that arrived at the intersection first. If two or more drivers arrive at the same time, the right-of-way goes to the driver on the right. Making a left turn when one does not have the right-of-way at any intersection is against the law, and could result in liability for a collision.

South Carolina’s Uniform Act Regulating Traffic on Highways also has a provision specifically addressing two-way left turn lanes. If a road has a specific lane for drivers making left turns but proceeding in opposite directions, a driver cannot make a left turn in any other lane. Drivers cannot use these lanes accept when preparing for or making a left turn or a U-turn, when the law permits.

Proving a Case Against a Left-Turn Driver

Left turn accidents are a common cause of head-on collisions, T-bone accidents, and motorcycle accidents. Drivers making left turns have a legal responsibility to do so in accordance with the law and with care to the safety of others. If another driver in a similar situation would not have made the left turn, the driver could be guilty of negligence.

If a negligent driver caused your accident while attempting to make a left turn, you have the right to pursue compensation from that driver’s insurance company. South Carolina is an at-fault insurance state. The at-fault driver in a collision will be responsible for paying victims’ damages. It will be up to you or your attorney to prove the other driver’s fault for your wreck. This may take recreating the left-turn accident, interviewing eyewitnesses, or hiring subject matter experts.

To prove your left-turn accident case in South Carolina, your lawyer will need to demonstrate that the other driver owed you a duty of care, breached this duty by making an unsafe or negligent left turn, and that this breach caused your accident. Your lawyer will also need evidence of your damages, such as medical records and hospital bills. Hiring an attorney can remove the burden of proof from your shoulders, so you can focus on recovering from your injuries.

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